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View Full Version : How did "le" begin to sound like "ul"?



tashirosgt
2013-Jul-13, 05:04 AM
How did the pronunciation of words ending in "le", like "tumble", "trouble","nipple" become as if they ended in "ul" - like "tum-bull"? Or was there originally a different pronunciation that changed while the spelling stayed the same?

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-13, 06:02 AM
Probably goes back to the Norman Invasion, with new words being pronounced the way they were spelt using the language rules they already had. after all, diphthongs have always been ripe for shibboleths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibboleth). Or maybe it was the great vowel shift (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Vowel_Shift). IIRC, with modern french, the "e" can be silent on some of those words, and english speakers can tend to add a schwa sound to fill in the blank. This may also be to soften a hard accent on a different syllable. It may also be to avoid homophony with other words in common use, like "tab".

Of course, french came from latin, and some latin words had a sound similar to that. Consider the word table. In US english- midwestern accent, we say "tay-bull", but in modern french they may say "tahb-leh" or just "tahb-l'" without enunciating a soft e at the end, or just "tahb". But the latin root is tabula, which depending on what pronunciation guide you use (ecclesiastical or classical or something else) it can sounds more like -bull" in the second syllable.

But I'm guessing.

Delvo
2013-Jul-14, 01:01 PM
Try to say "troubl" with no E. There's going to be a bit of something in there between the B and the L whether you write it or not. When we quit pronouncing the final E as in "troub-le", we just didn't quit writing it. So all that's really changed is the silencing of the final E; it's really no different from any other silent E.

Strange
2013-Jul-14, 02:40 PM
Try to say "troubl" with no E. There's going to be a bit of something in there between the B and the L whether you write it or not.

Strictly, it's a schwa not E. But it isn't necessarily so. For example, I expect you treat the bl in "blow" or "blue" as a simple consonant cluster. I guess this is a "word final" thing; i.e. not being followed by a vowel. How about "troubling"? Are there people/dialects where there is a vowel in between the b and the l? I don't think there is in my variety of English but it is really hard to know how you actually pronounce something when you start off thinking about it....

Perikles
2013-Jul-14, 02:47 PM
How about "troubling"? Are there people/dialects where there is a vowel in between the b and the l? I don't think there is in my variety of English ....I venture to say there is a schwa in there in Received Pronunciation, which is wot is spoke by me.

Strange
2013-Jul-14, 03:21 PM
I venture to say there is a schwa in there in Received Pronunciation, which is wot is spoke by me.

I did a course on accents and dialects once. Despite the fact I speak with a middle-class south-east English accent, RP was the hardest accent for me to do (which surprised me).

Taeolas
2013-Jul-15, 03:32 PM
Strictly, it's a schwa not E. But it isn't necessarily so. For example, I expect you treat the bl in "blow" or "blue" as a simple consonant cluster. I guess this is a "word final" thing; i.e. not being followed by a vowel. How about "troubling"? Are there people/dialects where there is a vowel in between the b and the l? I don't think there is in my variety of English but it is really hard to know how you actually pronounce something when you start off thinking about it....

I'm thinking about it now so it's hard to say how I would say it normally... But I can see saying "troubling" as "Truh-bling" and "truh-bull-ling", and have probably said it both ways myself.

NEOWatcher
2013-Jul-15, 07:17 PM
It sounds like the story of Neil Armstrongs Ohio accent and the missing "a" (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?144492-Armstrong%92s-Ohio-Accent-May-Have-Masked-His-Missing-%93A%94).